Irving C. Tomlinson

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Rev. Irving Clinton Tomlinson (March 22, 1860 – October 1, 1944) was an American Universalist minister who converted to Christian Science,[1] becoming a practitioner and teacher. For a time, he lived as one of the workers in the household of church founder, Mary Baker Eddy, later writing a book about his experiences, called, Mary Baker Eddy: Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy.


Born Irving Clinton Tomlinson, in Perry, New York, he was the son of Dewitt Clinton, a minister and Emmeline C. Eaton Tomlinson.[2] The family moved to Akron, Ohio, where his father was involved with raising funds to build a new Universalist educational institution, and where Tomlinson later went to preparatory school and college.[3][4] He was the class president of a senior class of seven students,[5] and business manager of The Argo, the first student publication at Buchtel College.[6] He was also a member of Phi Delta Theta, a fraternity.[7]

While a senior, he and his classmates decided to surpass an effort made by the previous year's graduating class, which had been to place a two-ton boulder on the campus, a lasting reminder of them. Tomlinson and his classmates searched the vicinity and located a syenite boulder on a farm belonging to the industrialist son of Akron's founder, Colonel Simon Perkins.[5] Tomlinson was sent to purchase the "pebble", as they called it,[8] which measured 7 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 3.5 feet across (2.1×1.5×1.1m) and 90 cubic feet (23 m3).[5] The owner didn't want to sell and didn't think Tomlinson and his friends would be able to move it, saying "six yoke of oxen weren’t able to budge it." Tomlinson replied, “But, Colonel, that was a good while ago and things have changed. The telephone has been invented, and lots else, and I think we can get it.”[5][8] They did have to pay a local building mover and the move took several days, but they were able to install "The Rock" on campus, where it remains a campus landmark.[5][8]

Tomlinson graduated from Buchtel in 1880[5] with a B.A. and in 1883, with a M.A.[9] Buchtel later became the municipal University of Akron.[5] Tomlinson then enrolled in the theological program of Tufts College in Medford, Massachusetts, receiving a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1888.[9] Soon after graduating, he became the minister at the First Universalist Society of Arlington, Massachusetts, later First Universalist Church.[10][11]

In 1894, Tomlinson learned of Christian Science and attended his first Christian Science church service and some time later—still a Universalist minister—had primary class instruction. Soon after the course was over, however, Tomlinson withdrew from the Universalist church, "[having] found it impossible to ride two horses going in opposite directions."[12] Tomlinson became a member of The Mother Church in 1897 and in 1898, was invited to be in the last class taught by Mary Baker Eddy.[13] In 1898, he was also appointed to the Christian Science Board of Lectureship and the following year, he was asked by Eddy to serve as First Reader at the church in Concord, New Hampshire;[13] his sister Mary was asked to serve as Second Reader.[14] Also in 1898, Eddy asked Tomlinson to serve on the Bible Lesson Committee, which prepares the lesson-sermons read in all Christian Science churches. Tomlinson on this committee at various times until 1927.[13] In addition, Tomlinson served in other capacities. In 1903 and again in 1921, he was elected president of The Mother Church and most notably, he was one of Eddy's secretaries for 12 years[7] and a worker in her household from 1907 to 1910. His book, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy was published in 1945, the year after his death.[15] In 1928, he taught the Normal class, which trains new teachers of Christian Science and is held just once every three years.[9][13]

Published writings (partial list)[edit]

  • The Revelation of Saint John: An Open Book (1922)
  • Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy (1945)


  1. ^ Peel, Robert. The Years of Authority. Holt, Rinehart and Winston (1977), p. 109
  2. ^ Irving C. Thomlinson Retrieved June 29, 2013
  3. ^ Spanton, A. I., editor. Fifty Years of Buchtel: 1870-1920 Buchtel College Alumni Association (1922), p. 15. Retrieved June 29, 2013
  4. ^ Fifty Years of Buchtel, p. 145 Retrieved June 29, 2013
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Price, Mark J. "Local history: University of Akron landmark is a rock of ages" Akron Beacon Journal Online. (October 16, 2011). Retrieved June 28, 2013
  6. ^ Fifty Years of Buchtel, p. 301 Retrieved June 29, 2013
  7. ^ a b "Chapter Grand" The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta, Vol. 69, No. 2 (November 1944), pp. 159-160. Retrieved June 30, 2013
  8. ^ a b c Fifty Years of Buchtel, pp. 369-370 Retrieved July 2, 2013
  9. ^ a b c "Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson" Zoominfo cached from Longyear Museum. Retrieved June 29, 2013
  10. ^ "First Universalist Society of Arlington, MA. Records, 1841-1965: A Finding Aid" Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School. Retrieved June 29, 2013
  11. ^ "North Cambridge" The Cambridge Tribune (August 15, 1896). Retrieved June 28, 2013
  12. ^ Tomlinson, Rev. Irving C. Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy (1945), pp. 4-6.
  13. ^ a b c d "New Member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship" Christian Science Journal (July 1932). Retrieved June 29, 2013 (subscription required)
  14. ^ Tomlinson (1945), p. 6
  15. ^ "Notes from the Publishing Society" Christian Science Sentinel Volume 47, Issue 44 (November 3, 1945) Retrieved June 30, 2013 (subscription required)

External links[edit]